Newly elected Green Party leader Annamie Paul faced her first test at the helm of Canada’s most progressive party. Paul, who ousted seven other candidates to win the leadership for the Greens on October 3rd got a second shot at becoming a member of parliament.
Bill Morneau’s resignation as Canada’s finance minister and as the MP for Toronto-Centre meant an October by-election.
Canadians in the 905 riding casted ballots between October 16-19, and on the following Monday it was announced that the seat would remain red. Liberal Party candidate Marci Ien, a journalist, won with 42 per cent of the vote, while Paul placed second with 32.7 per cent of the vote.
Despite, not claiming victory, Paul made up significant ground from her showing in the federal election last fall when she finished fourth in the riding with only 7 per cent of the vote. This by-election was the best result that the Greens have ever had in an Ontario riding.
Canadians will get to know Paul better as she leads the Greens in place of Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, Elizabeth May.
“I’ll still be in Parliament working to support the next leader,” May said. “I just can’t tell you how much I believe that pathway for the next leader will be one that is just as inspiring as it’s been for me.”
Holding the post for the better part of 14 years May was the longest-serving leader of any political party in Canada.
“I know if I stayed on as leader, I would have been popular in the next election, but I know that the media had pretty much decided. She’s been around too long, time for a new face. So, I think a new face will help us particularly more than this old face,” May said with a chuckle.
Paul is already breaking new ground as the first Black permanent leader of a major political party in Canada.
The Toronto lawyer will have her work cut out for her as the Green Party has just three MPs. Prior to the 2019 federal election, it seemed poised to dramatically boost its support, yet they failed to match even their share achieved in 2008.
Climate change has become a more important issue for Canadians, but if the Green Party is not able to distinguish themselves, voters may opt for other parties that are increasingly prioritizing environment but have more experience in power.
Another essential in developing this new identity will be to separate themselves from May, who has become nearly synonymous with the Green Party for Canadians.
Paul was one of the more moderate leadership candidates, which if she galvanizes on effectively could help the Green Party, who in past elections have had voters fail to take their efforts in fiscal responsibility seriously. Not to mention, Paul inherits the Greens in a pandemic when Canadians are less concerned about the environment, and more concerned about the economy.
Paul’s predecessor is optimistic.
“We need to have a leader who can take us to the next steps.”
Story by David Mann.